“It’s Just a Little Laxative” – The Dangerous Health Consequences of Laxative Abuse

While people often think of eating disorders as a struggle to stay skinny, it is really a constant struggle of maintaining control in world of chaos. As a person recovering from bulimia and anorexia, I found the more “success” I had in my disorder, the more pressure there was to “up the ante”.

What started as a simple laxative, turned into a giant medical issue.

Eating disorders are the same as any addiction. When you get a taste, eventually you need more.  For me, my restricting and purging wasn’t cutting it, so I turned to laxatives. 

It started with one. I hated going to the bathroom, it meant I failed-I ate. However, taking a laxative (or 3) on an empty stomach of coffee and cigarettes then using the bathroom felt awesome. I was purging nothing; I was purging the excess.

After a month, my few laxatives here and there weren’t doing anything. So I started using more and more. I remember trying to go to new stores so people wouldn’t question my purchases. I remember ordering some online so I could avoid eye contact with the cashier.

While I was so concerned about someone finding out my secret during this time, I failed to acknowledge my ability to go to the bathroom without a laxative was impossible.

During the day, I’d be stuck in a ball-cramping so badly I could barely stand. I would often be sweaty and shaking. I’d feel faint. I felt like I had the world’s worst stomach bug multiple times a day.

But I kept going.

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The awful consequences

After 8 months of regular laxative use-and other disordered behaviors-I entered treatment. This is where I saw the horrible effects of my laxative use. 

After I had stopped, I realized that in spite of my food consumption, I couldn’t poop. My stomach was distended, I hurt, I cramped, and I felt physically full all day. The doctor told me, “You will eventually go and if you don’t soon, we will help you go.”  A week later I finally used the bathroom on my own. After not going for 3 weeks.

It took my body 4 years to regulate and get used to using the bathroom again.

I had to deal with the physical effects of not pooping, but I also had to deal with the mental effects.  My distorted mind still wasn’t healed. Seeing a distended stomach made the recovery process tough.

My doctor informed me that a few more months of laxative use in that manner could have had much more serious complications – like surgery.

Now, I still can’t go to the bathroom every day. However, my mindset has changed. When I do go, I feel genuinely excited that my body has forgiven me and found a way to heal itself.

Let this be a warning

So, warriors – let this be a warning to you. Laxative abuse has serious, serious, health consequences. If you’re using laxative you need to get help – NOW! Before you do any more damage.

It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

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